An Alliance Party Delegation today met with the Bush Administration’s Special Representative on Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, to review developments in the peace process.
Speaking from Washington, Alliance Party Leader, David Ford said:
“Alliance informed the Administration that there were broad steps that needed to be taken to restore peace and stability in Northern Ireland: dealing with paramilitarism, reforming the institutions of the Agreement, and working to build a united community.
“I welcome the strong message of support from President Bush for policing reforms, and resolute opposition to all forms of terrorist and paramilitary activity, in particular the statement that they would not be tolerated in the United States.
“Alliance took the further opportunity to explore our ideas in Agenda for Democracy with the Administration. We are pleased with the strong interest shown on what are common sense ideas that would not only increase the prospects of stable institutions, but would move Northern Ireland in the direction of a more normal liberal democracy. Dealing with only paramilitarism is not enough.
“I continue to be impressed by the strong advocacy of Mitchell Reiss, the US Consulate, and previously Richard Haass in supporting work on the ground to build a united community, in particular integrated education. This was a message that we emphasised to the President when we met him in the White House.
“Although there are differences, the US can provide Northern Ireland with many lessons, both positive and negative, on how to promote integration while preserving diversity. Many Americans we have spoken to this week are stunned at the level of segregation in Northern Ireland.
“Indeed, they are annoyed that some of their heroes – such as Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy – are invoked by people in Ireland to reinforce a misguided policy of separate but equal, rather than building on their real legacy of being uniters.”